Canada Action: Supporting ‘The Family Business’
You already know that Alberta is a province of breathtaking natural beauty. Visitors come from all over the world to enjoy our lakes and mountains, to fish from our rivers, to trek through our grasslands, and to appreciate our ample boreal forests.
Chances are you’re also aware that nobody appreciates the bounty of the land more than Albertans, and this fact makes us natural conservationists. Environmental stewardship is a part of who we are, and the oil sands industry is no exception.
And unless you’ve stowed away on the New Horizons space probe to Pluto, you’ll have heard the energy trade is getting a bad rap of late, and Alberta (particularly the province’s oil sands) has borne the brunt of it. Celebrity activists have joined a chorus of incendiary environmental organizations attempting to condemn the way business is conducted in Fort McMurray and the surrounding areas.
Enter Canada Action, a non-profit coalition of proud and concerned citizens with somewhat unlikely beginnings. In 2010 I was shopping in Vancouver when I spotted a sign in the window of a shop denouncing the oil sands. I admit I knew little about the issue at the time. I was more perplexed than angry, but wanted to find out more. After a few months of research, Canada Action was born.
It’s been said that anyone who is involved in the Canadian oil industry is also involved in the environment industry, and nothing could be truer. Since that day five years ago I’ve learned everything I could about the oil sands. And here’s what I’ve found.
“Canada is the most regulated, monitored, environmentally transparent, democratic and socially progressive of the world’s top 10 oil reserve nations, these 10 countries hold almost 90% of the world’s oil. We are innovators who consistently rank among the world’s most admired nations, and score top marks globally out of all countries for freedom of the press, equality, happiness, quality of living, social progress, entrepreneurship and much more.
That is, in part, thanks to the fact the Canadian energy industry contributes almost $100 billion each year to our economy. These revenues help support schools, hospitals, and social programs that allow Canadians to enjoy a world- beating quality of life. Close to 2 million Canadians also work hard to support their families in Canadian resource industries.
The folks involved in Canada Action believe that these facts are worth celebrating.
Unfortunately, detractors of Canada’s energy and other resource industries have made it their mission to condemn many drivers of our prosperity and quality of life, and the oil sands are their primary target. To this end, Canada Action volunteers have worked tirelessly in Fort McMurray and other regions to balance that discussion.
Much of what we do involves social media, which is ground zero for promoting energy literacy and giving voice to the many ordinary Canadians who work in the petroleum industry – the folks who put food on their tables and pay their mortgages because of the oil sands resource. Many will be able to enroll their kids in youth sports and support them through post-secondary education.
Here’s a taste of what our traditional, earned and social media activity has looked like: Canada Action has engaged an online community of more than 190,000 Canadians, all of whom want to celebrate our country and promote responsible and robust exonomic development balanced with environmental protection, this always has been and always will be the Canadian way. We have more than 44,000 engaged followers on Facebook, 4,000 on Instagram and a big email list, making us the most ‘liked’ energy advocacy pages in Canada on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Our Twitter reach is equally strong. A Huffington Post article that I published on behalf of Canada Action was the most shared oil sands article ever published online, as well as being the most widely circulated Alberta HuffPo article of 2014.
People are beginning to take note. We’ve gained some major media traction, having been featured on CTV, Global and CBC Radio and in the National Post, Vancouver Sun, and Calgary Herald. New requests for content and interviews have become a daily occurrence, and we are working hard to keep up with them, despite our relatively small size.
In part, the success comes from the fact we point out regularly that the intense hostility leveled at the oil sands is not borne out by the numbers. Dirtiest oil? Not in Alberta. You’d have to look to the Placerita oilfield, just outside of Los Angeles, where North America’s dirtiest oil is produced.
Twelve other California oilfields also produce oil that creates more upstream greenhouse gasses than Alberta’s oil. In 2010 a single American coal plant generated carbon dioxide equivalent to 75 per cent of that emitted by the entire Alberta oil sands.
While we’re on the subject, the world’s dirtiest oil is Brass Crude from Nigeria, which produces more than four times the GHG emissions of Canadian oil. China is another major source of emissions, producing more GHGs in a single day than the growth of 25 years of Canadian oil sands development.
To put the issue in even greater context, Canada is responsible for about 1.6 per cent of global GHG emissions. The oil sands are responsible for .15 per cent of global GHGs. That’s not a typo; it’s an infinitesimal number.
We all know Fort McMurray has nothing to do with the culturally barren story of eco-devastation that some American celebrities tell. We know this because we’ve been there, and because Canada Action benefits from a cadre of passionate local volunteers who live there. They have shown us a Fort McMurray that few get to see on the news or the websites of environmental groups like Forest Ethics or the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Did you know the municipality of Wood Buffalo is home to a dazzling assortment of natural wonders, and Fort Mac itself is more diverse than ever? Not if you get your information from environmental groups.
We are all part of Canada Action. It’s thanks to our organizers and volunteers across the country, but especially in Fort McMurray that our momentum continues to grow and we remain a grassroots organization, concerned primarily with engaging and representing our supporters. We’re working to make canada better for our families and create well paying jobs to support our communities. We want ordinary Canadians to become ambassadors for the resources that contribute to this amazing country, can you spare 5 minutes of your time a few times a week? Email us and become a digital volunteer.
What we don’t see is the intentionally hidden fact that almost every single anti oil sands lobby group and their protests, websites, celebritiy tours and social media accounts are all one tentacle connected to a greater octopus that controls almost all the people, funding and campaigns against the oil sands. This aggressive campaign of big and typically foreign special interest groups that label themselves as “environmentalists” have considerable war chests – some would say as much as $500 million has been spent, and it’s backed by Billionaire foundations from outside Canada. This campaign has been left unchecked for far too long allowing so much incredibly false amd misleading propaganda to become part of the public discussion.